We left Miami and continued our counter clockwise travel around perimeter of Florida, making the short drive north to the Fort Lauderdale area. We camped at Markham Park, very popular Broward County park. After getting all settled in we made the short drive to visit Bill’s cousin Crystal and her family. We drove to Ft Lauderdale Beach to see how it compares to Miami Beach.
The highlight of our visit was on Wednesday when we drove inland ninety minutes to the Seminole Indian Reservation to visit the Billie Swamp Safari. What an amazing experience!! We signed up for the day package which included an airboat ride, swamp buggy ride, a critter show and a venomous snake show.
First we went on the airboat ride which included earplugs because of the loud noise of the motor. It was fun to fly across the “River of Grass”, slowing down occasionally as the guide pointed out different animals and birds. It was over far too quickly!
Next up was the Critter Show. The host was a unique guy, part wise guy and part comedian, but very knowledgeable about the animals. He picked different people from the audience to come up to handle the animals. Once you were selected you couldn’t say no and you didn’t know until you got up there what you would have to handle. I was rather nervous I would be selected to handle a snake. In that case, no would mean no, and they would have to take me kicking and screaming from the room before I would do it. Luckily I wasn’t selected to handle the tarantula, snake, skunk, alligator or ferret.
We had a little time before the venomous snake show so we walked around the property and saw a very rare Florida panther, a bobcat, two wolves, otters, a bear, exotic birds, crocodile and many alligators.
I can’t believe I agreed to go to the venomous snake show but I thought facing my fears and learning more about them would help. I told Bill I wanted to sit on the top row far away from the host. The host was extremely knowledgeable and didn’t expect anyone to come down front so that pressure was off. He answered lots of questions including several from me such as “how long do you have to get help once you are bitten before you die?”. I can’t say I loved the show but it was very informative and I was glad I went.
Our last activity of the day was the swamp buggy eco tour where we explored more of the swamp in an elevated buggy to get better views. We thought the tour would be going more through water but mainly we were on land. It was quite bumpy and lots of fun! We saw bison, antelope, zebras and ostriches, including ostrich eggs, just to name a few. At one point we had to wait for bison to get out of the road, reminding us of our visit to Yellowstone. We even saw a baby bison, the youngest we have ever seen.
Much too soon the day was over and we left marveling at all we had seen and done in one day. I would love to go back and do it all over again, even the snake show! We recommend this multi-hour adventure.
Next stop: Fort Pierce, Florida